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Why is it important to save manatees?

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Welcome to CoreFacts, where we're always short on time and big on science. I'm Jessica Robertson. Today's question is a good one.

Why is it important to save manatees?

It boils down to a fundamentally basic concept: Manatees are part of a system. If you remove any component from a system, there will be an effect on something else. For example, manatees could die if we kill most of the plants they depend on for food. On the other hand, manatees help control the vegetation that can obstruct Florida waterways. They also provide a benefit by processing the vegetation they eat and passing it back out into the environment as a form of fertilizer. Ecotourism forms the basis for a flourishing tourist industry in Florida. Close to 70,000 people visit Crystal River every year just to see and swim with manatees, thus helping the local economy. There is an aesthetic value to manatees as well. They are fun to watch and we can learn a lot from their non-aggressive, passive demeanor.

Protecting endangered and threatened species and restoring them to a secure status in the wild is the primary objective of the endangered species program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency of the Department of the Interior. The Endangered Species Web site can be accessed at

The USGS Florida Integrated Science Center administers the Sirenia Project, focused on long-term research on the West Indian manatee in Florida. More information on that project can be found at

And now you know. Join us again every weekday for a new CoreFact. For other CoreFacts, or for CoreCast, our in-depth science podcast, go to If you'd like to have a question featured on our show, give us an email at or a phone call at 703-648-5600. Remember, long distance fees do apply.

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